I have dealt with someone with Borderline Personality Disorder ever since I was about 15 years old. It could have even been longer... I'm not sure, because it only started being called BDP in the 1980s. The National Education Alliance defines Borderline Personality Disorder as "a serious mental illness that causes unstable moods, behavior, and relationships." And it is such a strange disorder... It is so hard to diagnose and even harder (read: almost impossible) to treat.
It wasn't always the same person that haunted be with their mental illness, but it has always been someone. The madness from the disorder found a way to cross my path over and over. So much so, that I even questioned my own sanity. While the Border is dishing out buckets of crazy (that is simply heat-of-the-moment nonsense), the non-BP is experiencing the real emotions that are associated with such accusations or threats.
I've been someone's "savior" and their biggest enemy... all in one week... week after week after week.
I've received calls and emails from friends about the person's suicide threats. So much so, that I brushed it off as easily as an empty compliment or bad pair of shoes.
I've been on the receiving end of wild mood swings that made me want to run for cover. I learned to swing my gold bullet-proof cuffs up as quick as Wonder Woman to defend the attacks.
I've experienced wild accusations that could never be true... both about myself and people around me.
I've been plagued by their sudden paranoia to the point that I prepare for the emotions that go along with possible alien attacks and computer hacking and deadly diseases and government takeovers.
And I ended up changing my behavior because of it. It's funny... the person with BPD changes from day to day... but never really changes. He or she is consistently inconsistent. A splinter that just won't fester enough to give relief. A squeaky wheel that won't be silenced with any amount of grease. And so I started to change instead of creating the necessary healthy boundaries. I felt that the one thing that I could control was me. And if I'd change to accommodate the BPD person, that I'd feel relief. But instead, I became the prisoner.
"The person with BPD hasn’t changed. But the non-BP has.”
― Paul Mason, Stop Walking on Eggshells
You see, to release yourself from the prison, boundaries are crucial with someone with BPD...I do know that much. The problem is that sometimes boundaries work and sometimes they provoke. Actually, most of the time they provoke. And the non-BP is left with a choice...
Do I set the boundary for my own sanity, knowing that the Border will explode?
And I learned that I could never fly if was stuck walking on eggshells. I felt like daily activities were centered around not "setting off" the Border. Simple tasks became mine fields. Daily choices became life altering decisions. My life had snow balled into a slippery slope that altered my sense of logic.
And as a Christian, it gets even more difficult. We think because God is love and Jesus said that "the greatest of these is love" and so on and so on, that love and kindness looks like a Sound of Music or Brady Bunch scene. But is love not disciplining your child for a lie? Is love not calling your spouse out for stepping one foot towards a temptation that could destroy your marriage? Is love not calling out a friend that speaks out of line towards another? So...Is love not setting a boundary?
Jesus set boundaries all of the time.
“Let the children come to me” was a boundary. He rebuked the disciples’ actions (Matthew 19:13).
“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” was a boundary. He challenged the ones that were calling themselves righteous (John 8:7).
“Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” was a boundary. He set this boundary for false teachings and non-believers (John 8:58). And they picked up stones. And he hid.
He knew the danger of boundaries. He hid because He knew. And He still knows today how hard it is to stand up and be strong in difficult situations.
Boundaries are a good thing!!
The story gets complicated for us when we see the patterns of unhealthiness. We must be careful with creating a healthy "family" around us. We can’t create perfection... which is what I expect of course... but we must set boundaries in a world that has learned to hide behind sugar-coated niceties and passive aggressive behavior… all of which is then given a social media façade of perfection.
All that a lack of boundaries gives us is a petri dish of dysfunction. All saying “It's fine,” does (while denying the ripple effect) is sweep the dysfunction under the rug. Our hearts begin to grow weary and tired and dark with the constant barrage from the Border. And we become the unhealthy person that begins yet another ripple effect with our depression.
I wish I could say that I've mastered all of he nuances of BP loved ones, but I haven't. I long for change, but know that change will never be. It is up to us to break the cycle of the Border. And it is up to us to love beyond borders while maintaining boundaries that allow us fly above the chaos.